Birds of a feather

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Author: Ivan R Schwab
Date: Apr. 2001
From: British Journal of Ophthalmology(Vol. 85, Issue 4)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 617 words

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The barking owl (Ninox connivens) is a medium to large Australian owl with bright yellow eyes and interesting vocalisations. This hawk-like owl is agile and aggressive and could be described as crepuscular. Others would describe these birds as semidiurnal as they have been seen taking live prey in broad daylight.

One of the bird's vocalisations provides a reason for its name because it does indeed sound like a barking dog (a gruff double bark), and it was not understood as the call of an owl until the 1930s. The bird was known as the winking owl before that time. Both sexes make the same call, but the female's call is higher pitched and seems to penetrate the dense foliage of the forest better than the male's. The other principal call, referred to as the "screaming woman", mystified ornithologists for decades until satisfactorily identified as also belonging to the barking owl. The "screaming woman" call...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A75914873